Garland ready for brighter spotlight in Vancouver

Juan Ocampo / National Hockey League / Getty

Hockey has come a long way in the desert, but former Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland is excited to see what the city of Vancouver has to offer following his trade to the Canucks.

"I grew up in a hockey city in Boston," he said, according to Matt Porter of the Boston Globe. "I played juniors in Moncton, New Brunswick, a hockey city. You felt every Friday night you were the main event and you had the city behind you. It's a little different in Arizona. You're not one of the major sports teams there."

Garland and teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson were involved in a blockbuster trade earlier this offseason that sent the pair into the throes of the hungry Canadian hockey market.

He signed a five-year contract with an annual cap hit of $4.95 million four days later, a deal that the 25-year-old thinks is only going to look more attractive over time.

"To get that kind of number and security is pretty good for someone who's only played 164 games," Garland said. "I think I'm just getting started and getting better, and I think I'll be a pretty good player at 30. I think by that time it'll be a pretty good deal for them. I'm excited to fulfill my part of it."

In those 164 contests, Garland has put up 96 career points. During the 2020-21 campaign, he tied his career-high 39 points in just 49 appearances, which is a 65-point pace over an 82-game season.

Garland's crossing his fingers that his first year in a new city will be a bit more ordinary than last year's pandemic-altered season.

"Last year was tough. The season was shortened, but it felt like forever," he said. "I'm looking forward to spreading it out and getting back to the normal schedule we train for and prepare for. Obviously, I've got a new team that's heading in a different direction than the Coyotes were."

Though the Coyotes and Canucks failed to qualify for the playoffs this past season, both found some level of success in the 2019-20 postseason bubble. Arizona topped the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round before getting dispatched by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, while the Canucks were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.

The Canucks were plagued by COVID-19 issues throughout last season, and, like Garland, are also looking for a return to normalcy and success. The team still has to iron out deals with two huge parts of the franchise's future in Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.

Garland ready for brighter spotlight in Vancouver
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